Posts tagged ‘professional development’

News: property tax caps and Indiana libraries, microfilm art, and YALSA mentoring

About two years ago, the Indiana legislature voted to institute a property tax cap of 1% for residential homes effective in 2010, and Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law. This is bad news for libraries because in Indiana, most of the library’s income is from property taxes (about 80%, in fact, according to the director of the Allen County Public Library). Budgets were cut, hiring was reduced, and cost-saving measures were introduced. The St. Joseph County Public Library said it’d cut all its Saturday hours. A year after the tax caps were announced and revenue cuts had begun, most of the library branches in Vigo County were closed. This fall the Anderson Public Library cut its hours. And yesterday, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) announced that they’d likely be closing six branches and cutting 55 jobs. Back in January one poll showed the governor’s approval rating was about 65% across the state with his highest rating (around 70%) in the Indy area, and about 73% of people approve of the tax caps. Libraries provide things like story times and recreational reading and fun programs, but we also provide absolutely essential resources like computer and Internet access and assistance in filing for unemployment online. I’m really hoping that when library services, hours, and staff get cut, people reconsider their approval of property tax caps, but since even cutting fire departments by about 30% hasn’t convinced people that the tax caps are a bad idea, I just don’t know how hopeful I can be.

In more cheerful news, IUPUI’s University Library recently got rid of about half of its microfilm collection and the librarian in charge of the weeding project, Mindy Cooper, was determined to keep it out of the landfill. According to Mindy, a lot of it went to students at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI, Indiana art teachers, and the Eiteljorg Museum, and one of the things it was used for was to make this collage by Alisa Nordholt-Dean at the Eiteljorg. What a neat reuse of discarded library materials!

Finally, the application process for YALSA’s mentoring program began on Monday (here’s the official blog post). They’re looking for librarians who’ve been working with teens in public or school libraries for at least six years to be paired up with new librarians and graduate school students to form a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship. The application forms are due by 30 June and reference forms should be submitted by 7 July. Participants will be notified of their selection in mid-September. I’ve applied and I’m hoping to be selected, but regardless of whether or not I’m invited to participate, I think this is a really cool program and I’m glad YALSA is offering this opportunity not only for new librarians to have guidance, advice, and a source of encouragement, but also to give more seasoned librarians a chance to pass on some of their wisdom and learn new things themselves.

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April 10, 2010 at 4:02 PM 1 comment

PLA Blog: volunteering and vendors: the exhibit hall

Library conferences aren’t just all sessions and socializing. There’s also a huge exhibition hall full of vendors, publishers, and other organizations. This year I volunteered for a shift at the PLA Membership Booth and learned about continuing education opportunities and women-driven comics. Read “Volunteering and vendors: the exhibit hall” on the PLA Blog for more.

[Full text will appear here in a month.]

March 27, 2010 at 10:50 AM Leave a comment

PLA Blog: extreme resume makeover

While there isn’t a job placement center at PLA this year, they did offer a resume review clinic. I was really pleased with how my resume review went. Read about it on the PLA Blog: “Extreme resume makeover”

[Full text will appear here in a month.]

March 26, 2010 at 1:52 PM Leave a comment

PLA Blog: a latecomer from Indiana

New post at the PLA Blog: “A Latecomer from Indiana”–in which I talk about audiobooks, conference expectations, and myself.

[Full text will appear here in a month.]

March 24, 2010 at 11:15 PM Leave a comment

Blogging as professional development? Sure. Peer-reviewed discourse? No way.

Nancy Bertolotti wrote earlier this month for the YALSA blog about blogging as a professional development tool. She suggests that blogging gives the writer the opportunity to network with authors (a review she wrote of one author’s book led to an interview with that author) and colleagues, as a way to practice writing, as a demonstration of knowledge or skill, and as a way of gaining experience with social networking tools. I agree with all of this and on a personal level, I’ve enjoyed blogging because it’s gotten me thinking about library stuff more often and in a more structured sort of way. Bertolotti also mentioned that she’s a recent grad and that she feels like her blog addresses a lot of different sorts of topics but that once she finds a job, her focus will narrow–another feeling I share with her.

She also asserted that blogging was a form of peer-reviewed writing:

Blogging on a professional site like the YALSA Blog might even be considered a peer reviewed form of writing. You know you will be corrected or asked for clarification if you post something that is not clearly articulated and accurate. You will also receive comments if you post something controversial like, blogging as a peer reviewed publication!

I’m afraid I can’t agree with her here, though. While it’s true that writing in a public forum allows people to critique your ideas and presentation (if anyone’s listening to what you’re saying in the first place), people read blogs differently than editors read papers. And part of why peer-reviewed papers are given such authority is because the review and vetting has happened before publication. Furthermore, reviewers and editors for peer-reviewed journals are (usually) considered experts in their fields, whereas any sort of review that happens in a blog is more crowdsourcing than expert opinion.

Bertolotti also doesn’t explicitly mention the more internal benefits of blogging. She does say that blogging allows you to demonstrate expertise in a particular area and to practice your writing, but even in the short time I’ve been working on this blog, I’ve found myself thinking about library issues I want to talk about in a much more organized fashion, deciding what relates to the topic, what examples and counter-examples I might use, and what isn’t related enough to be included in one post but might be the start of a new one. I’ve also been reading a lot more to find connections between ideas and am doing a better job of pulling in examples from sources that aren’t necessarily library-specific. Blogging has external benefits like the ones Bertolotti identifies, but it’s also something that has more internal benefits as well.

And just for fun, some tips from other library bloggers: last month, Creative Literacy offered five tips for better blogging. And earlier this week, GreenBeanTeenQueen celebrated its second anniversary; Sarah has five lessons on blogging and reviewing. She’s also running a contest with ARCs as prizes, so make sure you enter by the end of April.

March 19, 2010 at 11:58 PM 2 comments

Blogging and tweeting at PLA

One week from today I’ll be on a plane to Portland, Oregon for PLA2010! I’ve spent the last few days in a flurry of preparation: I’ve chosen my programs and sessions, I’ve made a list of what I need to pack, I’ve read the Walking Paper Guide to Portland, I’ve watched the Visiting Librarian’s Guide to Portland, and I’ve started to peruse the list of vendors.

I’m also very excited to announce that I’ll be guest blogging for the PLA Blog during the conference! I’ll be writing here, too, of course, but I’ll also post links here to what I write over there. About a month after the conference ends, I’ll mirror what I wrote for them here.

Finally, I’ll be tweeting throughout the conference; you can follow @librarified if you’re interested.

March 17, 2010 at 7:42 PM Leave a comment

Reflections on ALA Annual

One month from today I’ll be headed to Portland for PLA’s 2010 National Conference! I’m really looking forward to more opportunities for professional development and meeting other cool librarians from around the country. In anticipation of PLA 2010, I thought I’d reflect on the highlights of my experience at ALA Annual 2009, which was the first conference I ever attended.

I was really lucky last year; it was my first year in the SLIS program and ALA was in Chicago, so I was able to attend at the student rate, not pay airfare, and not pay for a hotel (I have friends in Northwest Indiana so I stayed with them and took the train into town)–all of which made the conference affordable. And it was such a fantastic experience! By last summer my experience in actual libraries was pretty limited: most of what I knew I knew from class readings, homework, and discussion. Going to ALA showed me how much more libraries could be.

My first day, I attended YALSA’s Genre Galaxy, which covered different genres of YA lit: what makes them appealing, what books are out there, and how to sell them to teens or program around them. But the best part of this preconference were the authors who spoke to us about their work, including James Kennedy (whose appearance was all done in-character and involved local teens re-enacting a scene from his book–Elizabeth Bird of Fuse #8 did writeups and posted videos here, here, and here), Dom Testa, Simone Elkeles, David Lubar (whom I also got to speak with during a break–he’s such a cool dude!), Patrick Jones, Libba Bray, and Holly Black. Honestly, I was a little bit star-struck after a day of hearing these YA lit rockstars talk–and getting to talk to them one-on-one during breaks! The giddiness of being able to meet people whose work I enjoyed so much really impressed on me how great it’d be to be able to bring that experience to teens and children through author visits.

I also attended a bunch of sessions that blew me away with how incredibly awesome and proactive libraries could be. Scott Nicholson talked about gaming in libraries and did a great job explaining why gaming is good aside from just the way it brings kids into the library, and he explained the importance of being able to back up gaming in your library with your mission statement. Different librarians also talked about how they’d implemented gaming in their libraries–and it ranged from something as small as just having a teen-organized gaming collection in a tiny public library to a huge program with classes and guest speakers on how to create games at NYPL.

I also attended the panel discussion on Teen Advisory Boards and again had my mind blown (see my earlier post about my class presentation on TABs). The only Teen Advisory Board I’d seen in action was just a group of kids the librarian could bounce ideas off of. I’d never even considered how TABs could be harnessed to make a library better and give teens leadership opportunities, or how they could very nearly run a teen department with the right development work from the librarian. More than any other session, this panel discussion got me really excited about being able to work in a library and really make an impact with what I did there.

I sat in on a presentation on sex in YA literature that challenged notions we all have about teens and sexuality and the books they read. Laura Ruby‘s talk about writing for children and then writing for teens and having her books challenged gave interesting insight into the author’s side of things, and Marty Klein did a great job of putting things in a historical and psychological context and examining the state of teen sexuality and teen sex education today.

I also went to the panel discussion on graphic novels that included a representative from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Neil Gaiman, Terry Moore, and Craig Thompson. Again, it was interesting to hear from the creators of works that get challenged, works we feel we need to defend. The consensus seemed to be that they don’t set out to be controversial; they just write and draw the story they want to tell and it’s only after it’s been released that the work starts to get categorized and analyzed and challenged and loved. They also did a good job of making the point that just because it’s a graphic novel doesn’t mean it’s for children–and that’s something we need to keep in mind as librarians. I also enjoyed their conversation about how graphic novels differ from other media like film or text.

Beyond the sessions I attended (and there were more–those were just the ones that I found particularly inspiring or interesting), I had time to check out all of the vendors on the convention floor. I got some neat free stuff including books and bags and pins and a Polaroid of me hugging the Cat in the Hat and ARCs (see my earlier post on ARCs)–including one of CATCHING FIRE, which was fantastic and exciting. Especially since this was my first conference, this part really was overwhelming at times. There are just so many people and so many booths and so much stuff everywhere. I was shielded in part by not actually having any sort of purchasing power, and it did give me a good idea of what’s out there for when I am working in a library and go to conferences representing my institution.

Part of visiting vendors was being able to meet authors and illustrators and get signed copies of their books. I got to meet Mo Willems and tell him what a fan I was and have him sign a few books; I met E. Lockhart and briefly discussed Frankie’s mix of psychopath and awesome while she signed my copy of THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS (now out in paperback with a much more boring cover); and I not only met and received signed books from MT Anderson but was able to have a surprisingly long conversation with him. He turned out to be a super-nice guy and I really wish I’d been able to talk with him even longer. I also ran into Lori Ann Grover of readergirlz right before the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder banquet and had a chance to learn more about how she started readergirlz and all of the great things they’ve done so far.

And finally, I got to attend the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder banquet and the Michael L. Printz Award reception. The Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder event was so elegant and the acceptance speeches were moving and inspiring. I especially loved Ashley Bryan‘s story of growing up black and wanting to illustrate and his energetic, expressive group recitations of Langston Hughes’s poetry.

While the Printz reception was a more casual affair, it felt more personal, too. I enjoyed hearing from the honor books’ authors as well as the winner, and I especially liked the chance to mingle with the honorees afterward.

My first conference experience was a little bit overwhelming and exhausting (I really packed in every activity I could while I was there), but more than that it was incredibly inspiring and energizing. Through the sessions I attended and the people I met, I got to see what kinds of rockin’ awesome things librarians are doing. I came away from the experience feeling really excited about my profession and really motivated to learn more and do more.

So with PLA quickly approaching, I’m looking forward to being able to re-energize myself in my work, especially in a more focused framework since PLA will be about public libraries specifically, and I’m looking forward to everything I’ll learn and be inspired by and inspired to do. The one way in which I felt like my ALA experience was lacking was that I didn’t get to meet as many new people as I wanted, and I’m hoping to do that at PLA–in just one month!

February 24, 2010 at 4:19 PM Leave a comment